Feminism for all or none at all

I wish the MRAs of the world would spontaneously combust so I could express myself without thinking of them as the only reason not to. In saying this I realise they cannot be the reason I censor myself and especially not on something so crucial. I am horrified at the ways in which the cisters are conducting themselves at the moment. I am reminded of Pastor Niemoller and his infamous words “then they came for me”. I cannot in good conscience sit by whilst my comrades are dehumanised and othered in such a casual manner. I will have to object to this establishment at every turn.

A few months back I was recruited to a group hoping to set in motion the first feminist party the UK has ever seen. My initial thoughts were this was a good thing, without putting too much thought into the detail; it would be a first and a step up in the hierarchy. This before I’d discovered the principles of Anarchy and why reform is unacceptable. I took objection to the fact that I’d been recruited and wasn’t drawn to it organically and a quick glance at the names of the mailing list recipients revealed a very white middle class bunch who were actively having to recruit members to fill equal opportunity quotas. It made me feel uneasy because of its resemblance to the patriarchy.  For example, this particular line jarred me; “people we need, previously raised: economists, women of colour, disabled women.” I am having trouble understanding why this line exists as it does and would appreciate some clarification. Of course I didn’t feel comfortable approaching this with my fellow party members, they were leading the conversation and as a minority I felt unable to object. I felt at this point that I would have to take a back seat and asked to be kept informed although I would not be actively contributing.

I have watched incredulously the ways in which they discuss anyone who is not white and cis gendered. They claim to be a party for all self-identifying women yet happily invite discussion like this:

“Self-identification does not a woman make. If this party is open to ‘self-identified ‘women’, I want nothing to do with it – in fact I will lobby and campaign hard against it. This is a travesty. Trans women are *men*. Fullstop. “

“I cannot support this as woman is not something one can self-identify as. Men can not be women.” Sic

“Whilst I do accept the spirit of this wholeheartedly, I believe expressing it in these terms is likely to bring problems up in the future. Because the power to deem a term ‘discriminatory’ or ‘offensive’  will rest on the person being addressed, there’s the potential for almost anything and everything to be found ‘discriminatory’ or ‘offensive’ on almost any ground. In other words, yes to not using offensive language, but we may have to determine for ourselves what ‘offensive’ means (within reason).

ANY OTHER EQUAL OPPS RULES YOU’D LIKE TO CHANGE TO FIT YOUR OWN AGENDA? ALSO, MUST NOT LET THE MINORITIES HAVE ANY POWER; IT’S BETTER IF IT SITS WITH US, THE POWERFUL ONES.

In fairness they were discussing the motion to invite trans women and it was passed by 16 votes to 3 but in any truly equal space, comments like the ones above would have been immediately challenged not “Please see a breakdown of the voting in the attached file as well as the comments people made, some of which it would be good to address.” Why aren’t they resulting in an automatic expulsion for hateful speech?

If the party wasn’t so intent on filling quotas of people they don’t actually care for, we might see their true colours. Recruiting WoC, disabled women and accountants (FFS) seems to be an afterthought and only because the law requires them to. Is there also a law stipulating a trans woman quota? It’d be about the only reason for involving them, based on how they seem to discuss their involvement. Or is it merely a reaction to the discourse around Intersectionality? Are they aware of its rapid growth and feigning compliance to secure votes? Whatever their reasons, I cannot say they have my support.

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22 comments

  1. “Because the power to deem a term ‘discriminatory’ or ‘offensive’ will rest on the person being addressed, there’s the potential for almost anything and everything to be found ‘discriminatory’ or ‘offensive’ on almost any ground.”

    Given that one of the “offensive” terms in the example was “cis”, this could be a valid point.

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      1. Sorry, I wasn’t clear. They gave “cis” as an example of an offensive term, so there might well be an issue with them defining any language that uncomfortably calls attention to their privilege as “offensive”.

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  2. This trans woman certainly wouldn’t be interested in joining any organisation which feels the need to discuss a motion to invite trans women – whether or not it passes. My identity is not up for discussion. I’m not a woman because others give me permission to be. I’m a woman because i’m a woman!

    Thanks for writing this.

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    1. Could not agree with You more, why is it even up for debate? I have many privileges as a white, cis, middle class, educated, able bodied English speaking woman, and they do not represent me. It is so disappointing when such an opportunity (to create feminist solidarity and politics) is squandered by a few – those taking such narrow positions that fail to consider how gender intersects with class, bodies, race, identity etc etc… Have they missed the past twenty years of feminism? So regretfully they do not get my full support at this stage either. Pity. But perhaps they can learn and the party can develop and grow in time?

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  3. Perhaps it is up for discussion because a feminist party that is ‘for all’ must be exactly that, a feminist party is ‘for all’…including those feminists who hold a position that many of us do not agree with. Disallowing conversation would not bode well for the future of any democratic political party.

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    1. …which is exactly why ostensibly “left wing” parties like Labour are merrily endorsing forcing people to work for no wage, and so on, and why they’re worse than useless.

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      1. …are you really suggesting that an excess of democracy rather then neoliberal hegemony is responsible for the dire state of the Labour party – and to infer from that that it is a mistake to try form a political party on democratic principles?

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      2. Well, only if you’re saying that what the feminist party are doing isn’t rooted in a cis supermacist hegemony. Which it is. And therefore, this veneer of democracy is exactly the same as that which excuses Labour.

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      3. No stavvers, what the Labour party is doing is terrible, but it’s not terrible because it’s democratic, it’s terrible because their policies suck. If when the feminist party produces policies, you think they suck, then attack the policies, and if you think the policies are the product of ‘cis supremacist hegemony,’ then we’ll listen to you explain why. The best way to ensure that they are not, of course, would be for there to be as many voices as possible involved in the development of those policies. Unfortunately, disseminating accounts of our actions which makes many women feel that we are not a group that represents them is a really great way of making sure that doesn’t happen.

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    2. Dear Channelightvesselautomatic. You have a point there … But the post implies there was no conversation, their position was unchallenged, until the vote… But power is not just about the final vote, but what gets put on the agenda, what is left out, and what are the assumptions underpinning the debate that are not even discussed because they are ‘common sense’. Here it seems their privileges were the unspoken norms of the group as whole because they were unchallenged. Consequently their politics is more limited at this stage than I would wish to identify with.

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      1. You are right that this is what the post implies. This is my understanding of what happened. The comments posted by the OP were left on the poll taken among the party members on the proposed motion to welcome all self-identified women to the party. It was not on a forum in which members of the party were interacting, and the first time I saw these comments was on the email sent to the mailing list that the OP is also on. The member who sent out the email noted the comments as something we should address when we next meet to have a discussion. With regard to the issue coming onto the agenda, my understanding – this happened before I joined – is that it was requested by trans-allies who wanted it to be crystal clear what our position was (boy, is that one gonna bite us in the ass). Prior to the vote we had a meeting at which both sides put forward their position, and following a discussion we came to a rough consensus about the motion, which was drafted and put out for comments before being voted on. The result being that all self-identified women are welcomed to the party.

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    3. That’s the point. My life and identity are not things that are available for anybody to “not agree with”. They are fact. If those voices are allowed to “not agree with” my existence then forgive me for concluding that that organisation is not welcoming to me.

      Let me put it another way… would you include those feminists who are openly racist?

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  4. After reading this I google “self-identified male”. There isn’t much on women who identify as men. Would they be accepted as more woman than man, if self-identified women are perceived as men? I’m curious.

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  5. Interesting question and one I have discussed with my friends. Self identifying men are even more ridiculed than SI women. We think this might be because a section of feminists, cis and trans* fight for the rights of all women whereas MRAs do not acknowledge SI men.

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